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Caldwell-West Caldwell Takes Steps to Improve School Security

New doors, cameras in place at building which houses pre-K, kindergarten enrichment programs.

New doors and a camera system were installed recently at a Caldwell-West Caldwell school where parents were concerned about the security of their children following the December mass school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

Under the new system at Harrison School, doors are kept locked during the day when students are in the building. Visitors are buzzed in by an employee who monitors security cameras placed at the front entrance.

The process to improve security in the building started in early fall, before the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting focused nationwide attention on school security, Caldwell-West Caldwell Superintendent James Heinegg said at Monday night's board of education meeting.

"Obivously, the tragedy in Newtown heightened our awareness," Heinegg said, adding, "We feel very good that the security system is now in place."

Harrison School visitors were previously greeted by an unlocked entrance and were directed to sign in at the main office, a system which alarmed parents in light of the Sandy Hook tragedy in which 20 children and six educators were massacred by a gunman who broke into the school.

Harrison is home to the district's pre-kindergarten program, as well as morning and afternoon kindergarten enrichment programs run by the YMCA. The district's administrative offices are also located at Harrison School. 

Board of Education President Mary Davidson said she experienced the new security system first-hand when she visited the building earlier in the day Monday. Davidson said it took "two seconds" for her to be buzzed into the building. 

After Newtown, district administrators toured schools with Caldwell and West Caldwell Police chiefs to identify and address potential security issues. New doors, which were already on order for several schools, were seen as a positive step toward tighter security. 

"No parking" signs were also purchased and installed outside Harrison School and James Caldwell High School since the meeting with police officials, Business Administrator and Board Secretary Kerry Keane said Monday. The signs are meant to keep the fire lanes outside the schools clear in case of an emergency. 

JuliaN6572 February 05, 2013 at 08:31 PM
Patch - Can you clarify if all schools have instituted new safety procedures since Newton? Or just Harrison?
Teresa Akersten (Editor) February 06, 2013 at 01:47 PM
The story above focuses mainly on Harrison, but this previous story has more detail about the district in general. http://caldwells.patch.com/articles/caldwell-west-caldwell-schools-reexamine-security-practices The Superintendent has said repeatedly that this will be an ongoing process.

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